Welcome to a look Inside the Holocron. A collection of articles from the archives of *starwars.com no longer directly available.
(*Archived here with Permission)
Making Up is Hard to Do: Lesley Vanderwalt
When someone mentions makeup in regards to a science fiction or fantasy film, people generally assume the creation of monsters, demons or aliens. But the presentation of the human face for the camera lens requires dedication and skill as well.
Lesley Vanderwalt was the Makeup Supervisor for Attack of the Clones, handling the makeup of all the principals. Much of her time was devoted to presenting Padmé Amidala’s natural beauty on the screen. Before cameras rolled, Vanderwalt and Director George Lucas needed to come to a consensus regarding Padmé’s look.
“We put together a collage of different pictures I got from magazines and all her different fashion shoots, and sent them to George,” recalls Vanderwalt. “There were looks that were very natural, there were ones with more lips, ones with more luminous makeup if you wanted to go a bit more spacey. We sent three huge binders over and then got him to check and number the ones that he liked. From there, we worked out what colors would suit her.”
Having aged 10 years from a teenager to a young woman, Padmé’s look still has a natural untouched beauty highlighted with accents as she adopts a more adult sensibility. Furthermore, given the number of costume changes she would undergo, Padmé’s look had to work in concert with her wardrobe color. “We determined what lip colors would work best with all the different outfits. I had three different lip colors that I used on her. We didn’t go hugely different in each one; we kept the same palette and just changed things slightly — sometimes more eye makeup, sometimes more lips, a couple of different color blushes, just depending on what she was wearing and what would go better with the costume,” explains Vanderwalt.
“The hero look, P-11, is the one she’s in for the largest part of the film. I kept that pretty natural because that’s when she’s involved in traveling and action, and we didn’t want it to be too girlie.”
For all the principals, Vanderwalt used makeup to warm their skin tones, giving them a tanner tone than their natural skin. It’s not because the script calls for it, though; it’s a necessity to accommodate a shooting schedule that spans weeks.
“We used tan makeup for Anakin, because we thought once in Sydney, Hayden Christensen would probably go out and be in the sun or at the beach, so we kept him pretty tan. We tanned Natalie slightly, because if she got a natural tan during the film, and we then tried to make her pale, you’d get a slightly grayish tinge to the skin, and it’d look pretty unattractive. We prepped the actors with layers of fake tan underneath so that if they did sweat, you wouldn’t get white stripes in the makeup.”
Most of the human principals required a natural look. “With Ewan McGregor, we tried to make him slightly older without going into aging type makeup just by shading in the face. For Count Dooku, George wanted him to be quite the manicured kind of dapper gentleman, as he put it. We went with a very clipped beard and the makeup was minimal on Christopher Lee. I just sort of smoothed out his skin tone a little bit, and that was it really. It was more a matter of [hair stylist] Sue Love shaving him and clipping him everyday.”
For some of the humanoid extras, though, Vanderwalt got to apply more of an artistic touch. Characters such as Luminara Unduli, Barriss Offee and Sly Moore were her responsibility, since they required no complicated prosthetic latex applications but were instead all makeup.
Palpatine’s ghostly assistant, Sly Moore, was a favorite makeup job of Vanderwalt. “The drawings we got showed the character with a bald head, so we did ask the extras casting people if they could find someone like that who was tall, and looked like a handsome, striking character. Fortunately, we’d just finished Moulin Rouge, where we’d worked with an extra, Sandi Finlay, that looked exactly like that. So, we suggested her, and they found her after a number of inquiries. She’s a DJ around town.”
Finlay’s features worked perfectly for the Sly Moore design. The original concept illustrations had a very stark character, with eyes sunken into darkness. “We thought the dark looked sort of vampire-y, and ghoulish,” said Vanderwalt. She did half of Finlay’s face as a faithful interpretation of the high-contrast illustration. The other half was softer. “We did a softer approach where I brought in blue and shaded it through, keeping it a really soft, pastel tone. We let George have a look, and he fortunately went with the same thought we did, so we went with the lighter stuff rather than the darker.”
Once the makeup is applied, Vanderwalt watches the shooting process to see if the makeup requires any touching up. “Usually for a wide shot, you can see from where you are that the person’s okay. If they’re out in the heat and they’re sweating, we wait until the camera gets in tighter to go in and check to see if the makeup’s sitting okay.”
The use of HD cameras was a new experience for Vanderwalt and her team, though they adapted to it easily. “We did makeup tests in the beginning. I think we were all quite frightened, you know, as to what were we going to see, because it’s such a clear image. I suppose, though, we’re always careful and that’s what you try to be regardless of format.”
Vanderwalt’s trained eye had to compete with the unerring detail of the HD image, which would pick up every little blemish or imperfection. “Natalie had scratched her head changing clothes, and it made an indentation that was visible to my eye. But on the monitors, we couldn’t really see it. I was discussing it with [Director of Photography] David Tattersall what would happen once it was on a big screen — would we be able to see it? I was still concerned, because I could see it, but everyone assured me that it was okay.”
In at least one case, though, a noticeable scar worked in the makeup team’s favor. “With Temuera Morrison (Jango Fett), we couldn’t change him too much because he was in another show at the time. At the beginning of the shoot, though, he walked into a door on the set of the other production. The makeup artist from the other job rang me and said, ‘oh, it’s terrible. He’s got a black eye and he’s got a cut above his eye!’ We thought, great, we’ll use it. When it healed itself, we just kept applying it.”